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image of Asia-Pacific Journal on Human Rights and the Law

On 2 February 2012, the Philippine Air Force conducted a precision bombing on an Abu Sayyaf camp in Parang, Sulu, Mindanao, Philippines. The airstrike killed Abu Sayyaf commander Gumbahali Umbra Jumdail, a Filipino terrorist suspect. To date, no human rights organisation or group in the country has expressed any apprehension on the state action. In the midst of silence, this article explores the permissibility of the targeted killing of a Filipino citizen carried out by state agents. It argues that the killing has the hallmarks of an international humanitarian law paradigm applied to what could otherwise be an international human rights law and domestic law situation. The blurring of distinction and the secrecy surrounding the incident indicate a less than transparent act of deprivation of life of an individual with tremendous implications on the future of human rights protection in the country. Where the Philippines operates in such legal ambiguity and decides to exercise the most lethal of options in depriving a person of his or her life, it is suggested that it should consider the adoption of an effective post-targeting investigation mechanism to ensure respect for and protection of human dignity and fundamental rights and freedoms.


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